Delegate Doug Skaff
There’s an announced coalition in the race for the open speaker’s job in the West Virginia House of Delegates giving a major boost to the candidacy of House Finance Committee Chairman Harry Keith White.
Kanawha County Delegate Doug Skaff said Thursday he’s backing White.
The move apparently puts two camps in the race; the White-Skaff coalition against a group of current leadership team members led by House Majority Leader Brent Boggs and Dels. Tim Miley and Mike Caputo.
Del. White, the House Finance Committee chair, announced on MetroNews Talkline back on Monday that he’s a candidate for the job. Skaff brings on board a group of younger House members known as the “young guns” and some more experienced delegates who have been mainly left out of leadership roles.
Skaff tells MetroNews White approached him several times in the past week since current Speaker Rick Thompson announced his decision to resign and take a job in the Tomblin administration.
“He (White) is reaching out to people and giving them a chance,” Skaff said. “I think everybody deserves a seat at the table. The bottom line is we have a lot of great, experienced people and we need to bring them into the fold who maybe haven’t had a chance or a voice.”
Skaff says the coalition includes Democratic delegates who are freshmen and those who have been in the House for as long as 16 years. Skaff says the credit goes to Chairman White for bringing the coalition together.
“He was one of the only candidates to come out and say, ‘I’m really open to making some changes and putting people into places where they can contribute,’” Skaff said. “He was against maintaining the status quo.”
Skaff says no leadership positions have been promised in the new coalition but statehouse observers believe Skaff would be in line for the majority leader’s position if White were successful.
The coalition put out a news release Thursday evening with quotes from several other delegates.
Lincoln County Democrat Josh Stowers says he’s looking forward to playing a role in a new direction for the state “with new ideas, new faces, and new agenda combined with the experience, knowledge, and dedication of those Delegates who have been there fighting for West Virginians through the years,” Stowers said.
Cabell County Del. Doug Reynolds is expressing confident in White to bring a jobs agenda to the forefront.
Del. Tiffany Lawrence, D-Jefferson, called the new team a “bold step” for the House of Delegates.
Skaff says he hopes other Democratic delegates will express their support soon for the new coalition.
“If they truly believe that we need to move West Virginia forward….they will come on this team and I’m confident at the end of the day we will have enough votes to turn a new leadership team,” Skaff said.
Speaker Thompson’s resignation is expected to be official sometime in mid-June. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will then have 10 days to call the House into session to take up the Speaker’s position.